Georgia Legislator Responds To Parody Of His Picture By Seeking To Criminalize Photoshopping Of Images

article-2278383-1790B181000005DC-624_306x443smithEarnestRep. Earnest Smith has a curious understanding of the First Amendment. Smith is upset that someone photoshopped his picture by placing his head on the body of a porn star. He has responded by seeking to make such photoshopping a crime and insisting that “No one has a right to make fun of anyone. It’s not a First Amendment right.” That is news to many of us.

The photoshop stunt was the work of Georgia Politics Unfiltered blogger Andre Walker who noted that “I cannot believe Rep. Earnest Smith thinks I’m insulting him by putting his head on the body of a well-built porn star.”

It is Smith’s understanding of free speech rather than aesthetics that concern me. His new misdemeanor crime would apply to the alteration of any photograph that “causes an unknowing person wrongfully to be identified as the person in an obscene depiction.”

I have criticized this trend in columns (here and here) and numerous blogs on the criminalization of using artificial turf to growing vegetable gardens to eating french fries in the subway. This is a prime example since there are already avenues in torts, including defamation and appropriation of name or likeness, that can be used for valid injuries. Of course, parody is often treated as an exception and the first amendment can bar the use of torts by public officials in some cases. In New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), the Supreme Court held public officials to a higher standard for a myriad of reasons, including “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” The Court imposed the actual malice standard in recognition that “erroneous statement is inevitable in free debate, and that it must be protected if the freedoms of expression are to have the “breathing space” that they “need . . . to survive.” Where Alabama sought to use civil liability, Smith would have Georgia go one better and introduce criminal penalties in that breathing space to chill speech.

Here is part of his bio:

A graduate of Augusta State University’s Hull School of Business with a BBA in Marketing and minor in International Business and Finance, he also attended South Carolina State University in Orangeburg. Rep. Smith is multi-lingual, fluent in Spanish and Turkish.

A committed Christian, Rep. Smith praised the Lord through music for many years as a member of the vocal group Wisdom (The Distinguished Men of Gospel). He hosts “Community Matters,” a radio talk show on WAAW – 94.7 “Shout” FM, a Christian radio station in the Augusta-Aiken, CSRA regional market. He is an active member of Second Baptist Church. Rep. Smith is a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Upsilon Gamma Gamma Graduate Chapter.

The other sponsor is Pam Dickerson who shows the same contempt for free speech in supporting the legislation. This is her first term in office and she seems to have wasted no time in trying to dismantle core constitutional protections.

Source: Daily Mail

35 thoughts on “Georgia Legislator Responds To Parody Of His Picture By Seeking To Criminalize Photoshopping Of Images

  1. find the blogger, hunt him down and challenge him to a sword fight in public. that should roundly humiliate the little bugger er blogger.

    If Smith had a sense of humor he would say something to the affect that the picture doesnt really do him justice, wink and say the picture is totally inadequate.

    Better to be known as a bold swordsman than just a Dick.

  2. Hello everyone. I see many new faces.

    Just came your way via a post at The Price of Liberty blog where professor Turley’s post about the Cleveland PD’s insane shoot out last year was mentioned (under the heading “Stupid CopTricks–Murder Most Foul”.)

    I see you all are keeping tabs on the rise of the totalitarian-police state (by both parties, especially the Nazi sympathizer s in the Democratic Party). You will remember that Obama, like Hitler, is socialist and act accordingly.

    Anyway. I do have an issue with photographs on the Internet. I don’t believe that anyone has a right to my image. It is my property. You will remember, and I think it was Madison or Jefferson, who said even our opinions are our property, so I cannot but believe that our images would not be also especially in the light of the Bill of rights which promises that the federal government would keep us secure in our person, papers, and effects. My person is violated with such real images that belong to me. And I think it would cover my effects as well.

    Moreover, the Internet is a federal creature. It was not developed by the states nor the people and its powers would not exist without the Feds. So I see in it serious national power to regulate at some level while protecting the Bill od Rights’ power to be secure in our person/effects. It could be that we could legislate against the Feds having any further power over it since it was a gift to the people but yet arose from the legitimate powers we gave to them in the first place (through the power to raise armies and the power to tax for it).

    Anyway, just bouncing ideas around.

    That said, I do see authority for the Feds to regulate in some way our image. At the least people could or should copyright their images and require permission to use it/them and have the power to sue for tampering with it/them. Hasn’t Obama (fellow socialst traveler with Hitler) thus protected the images of his daughters?) Not sure about that.

    I’m up for debate about it. Laws could arise in the states if the public is hesitant to give the Nazis in DC anymore power with which to abuse citizens.

    There have been many changes since I last posted and I have thought about you all from time to time hoping you are well and will take a greater stand on behalf of the Constitution for the sakes of our children and grandchildren.

    God bless Mr Turley and his many readers. And give them strength to throw off the despots and tyrants in the 3 branches of government who have overthrown our Constitution and rob us of our wealth and liberty in the meantime, then turn around and brutalize us with the laws they no longer have authority to enforce because they have themselves usurped the document which authorizes their power.

    Buy more ammo.

  3. Tootie suggests, “Buy more ammo.”

    An ugly suggestion that says simply, “I give up.” If you want to be a decent human being, hard to accomplish that while wielding death and liking it. Same goes for being examples for those around you to also be better human beings. No one will believe you are a person of peace if your solution to life is “buy more ammo.”

    Also, If you are going to use words like “socialist,” please acquaint yourself with their meaning first.

    You claim, “Moreover, the Internet is a federal creature. ”

    This is false. It is a creature unto itself. If it were a federal creature, it would not be usable due to incompetence, nor would patent trolls be taking to their swooning-couches over bits of data they can never, ever control. The govt is at LEAST 20 years behind, so the “internet” to them is, well, scary.

    America is nowhere near the Nazi party and never will be so long as the First Amendment stands. You do yourself no favors by inserting the term in your already creaky arguments. It makes people tune you out because it’s clear you do it to just to get attention, good or bad.

    In one hand, you call the govt Nazis. You then go on to say, “That said, I do see authority for the Feds to regulate in some way our image.” Well who gets the authority? Nazis? Or do you have special access to non-Nazi party members who will do your bidding? You are not making a whole lot of sense here.

    You then claim, “I’m up for debate about it. ”

    No, you are not. You have made up your mind that anyone you declare an enemy is therefore a socialist AND a Nazi! You must also be a pretzel baker.

    Are you going to shoot me now? Clearly, we do not agree. So…

  4. At first glance I thought that joker was Herman Cain!
    While Mr. Smith is suing he’s probably got that thing framed and hanging in his bedroom or his office. The picture is not obscene. Now if he posted his real body that might qualify as obscene!

    @Tootie – Hogwash. Your rant is worthy of Herman Cain or any of the blowhard tea baggers.

  5. Indeed this thin-skinned idiot has just asked for a barrage of photoshopped images of himself to be scattered across the internet. The people will put him in his place.

  6. Tootie:

    how is it going?

    Good post though.

    How are you going to stop all of that without stooping to the tyranny you rightly condemn? We would have internet police and would need a special court just for those crimes. Your suggestions would merely increase government.

    Smith should just sue him in civil court if the guy is making money on his blog using Smith’s image.

  7. Tootie, when you enter the ‘Public’ Realm…. you open yourself up to criticism. Can’t take the heat….. Resign, like the Pope did!

  8. “No one has a right to make fun of anyone. It’s not a First Amendment right.”

    Based on this statement alone Rep. Earnest Smith is an idiot and unfit for office.

  9. Tootie, even if people had a copyright on their image, it would be acceptable to use it as fair use for parody/criticism, so this guy would have no point.

  10. Smith is old enough to have heard about the “Hustler Magazine v. Falwell” case where the US supreme court ruled EIGHT to zero that parody was free speech when no reasonable person would assume the parody was true. Is he stupid enough to think it doesn’t apply to the photoshop of him, or is he too ignorant of court cases to be aware of it?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hustler_Magazine_v._Falwell

    Would any really believe someone as old, wrinkled and shriveled as him is a porn star? That he would have a body like the one in the picture? Highly unlikely.

  11. Wait, so he is a member of the Christian rightwing who wants to ban and censor images he doesn’t like? Gee, that must be the first time in the history of Christianity and religion that someone wanted to censor something.

  12. It seems that individuals, especially those that hold power, can’t take a joke. When they are made fun of, they turn to the law to change the rules. Much the same with the Bill Maher / Donald Trump thing going on. It’s rediculous and the law is not a tool to resort to when one cannot take a joke.

  13. sure, get upset about your image.
    MY SON gets HIS Image put on a cross and killed every year and watches the world do it. the rep says he knows the ten commandments from a radio show that claims to know MY word, and MY SON.

    people need to think, would JESUS SPIT ON THE CROSS!

  14. Stupid is as stupid does. I agree with Mike. This Georgia rep is too stupid to be in the George House of Representatives. Although, we are talking about Georgia here, aren’t we…?

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